Why LinkedIn Integrated Its Sales Navigator With Its Campaign Manager

Opinion: Sales and marketing teams need to operate as one

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn announced in October that its Sales Navigator tool would integrate with Campaign Manager to help marketers improve targeting—a move that monetizes its mountain of business data for both sales and marketing purposes.

The professional network’s update is just one example of a marked shift toward the merging of sales and marketing departments across all industries.

LinkedIn was once considered just a marketing channel for business-to-business organizations to target potential business buyers with ads and content. But this update brings sales teams into the mix, creating a shared platform for both marketing and sales departments to access data about each individual prospect.

In an age where no business decision is made without data analysis, this alignment makes sense. For businesses to close more deals faster, sales and marketing teams need to operate as one—with the same view of the customer and access to the same data. With this alignment, the buyer journey from initial engagement to conversion is smooth, efficient and fast.

And this positive buying experience plays more of a role in a buyer’s decision-making process than many businesses might think. In fact, a recent report found that 53 percent of the buyers make purchase decisions based on the buying experience.

That’s what makes LinkedIn’s investment in sales and marketing alignment so smart. The company is sitting on some of the world’s most accurate and up-to-date sales data, so why not monetize this into a tool that both marketers and salespeople can use to effectively engage and convert buyers?

The importance of sales and marketing alignment

When you think about the B2B buyer journey, it becomes clear why the integration of sales and marketing teams should be a no-brainer for businesses today.

The average B2B buyer interacts with a brand six to eight times before becoming a viable lead. These interactions are typically engagements with ads, emails or content downloads from a website—all orchestrated by the marketing department. Both marketing and sales departments generally have plenty of insights into this part of the funnel.

However, insight into the buyer journey becomes less clear when a salesperson shares a piece of content with a prospect. Both marketing and sales typically have little to no insights into how this prospect later engages with these pieces of content and whether or not the prospects that receive certain pieces of content eventually convert.

What’s more, both departments have little insight into which decision makers within a B2B decision making group engaged with which content. In this respect, sales can be considered the forgotten marketing channel.

This disconnect leaves sales teams in the dark about how a buyer gets from the initial interaction with a salesperson to conversion. This information is crucial for both marketers and salespeople to do their jobs effectively in the future. Without this insight, it’s difficult to determine how to effectively guide future prospects toward a deal or strategize marketing efforts moving forward.

But it shouldn’t be that way, especially when technology makes it possible for both teams to gain access to this information. Whether or not a prospect converts, both marketing and sales departments should have a full view into what content that buyer engaged with.

While this concept seems pretty straightforward, the barrier between sales and marketing will always exist until businesses truly change their mindsets.

How to implement a culture of collaboration

Proper sales and marketing alignment is proven effective. So why are so many businesses hesitant to take the plunge? Because it’s often easier said than done, especially when businesses are stuck in decades-old processes.

Fortunately, there are easy steps businesses can take to start aligning marketing and sales departments now that will eventually improve sales closure rates:

  • Talk to each other: The first step toward alignment is open communication, and this communication must go both ways. Marketing must clue in sales about a prospect’s journey with the brand to inform sales meetings. And sales must provide feedback for marketing after interacting with prospects so they can adjust strategies and messaging moving forward.
  • Speak a common language: Communication alone isn’t enough. Marketing and sales must use agreed-upon terms and metrics. If marketing and sales have different definitions of a lead, for example, it’s difficult to truly operate in sync.
  • Measure and report: Consistent and accurate reporting is also crucial to aligning sales and marketing. Without up-to-date prospect data that can be accessed by both teams, the collaboration of sales and marketing becomes less effective.
  • Find the right technology: Even if you’re on board and ready to align your sales and marketing teams, it’s difficult to execute when both teams rely on different technology to analyze data and communicate. All sales and marketing data should be housed under one roof that can be accessed by anyone who might have interaction with a prospect.

With LinkedIn representing a new way of thinking about personalized sales, major shifts in alignment of sales and marketing within B2B organizations are on the horizon. Businesses that take the leap now will enjoy higher sales closure rates, better marketing return on investment and ultimately a competitive edge.

Louis Jonckheere is co-founder and chief product officer at sales enablement platform Showpad.

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